From enjoying the thrill of water sports to soaking up some sun on a cruise through the harbor, boating is a great way to relax and unwind during summer. Personal yachts, dinghies, cuddy cabin boats, and runabouts provide a variety of fun experiences to boaters of all ages. Whether you go out on a lake or take a trip out to sea, the threat of boating accidents is still the same.
In order to stay safe while boating, there are several practical tips you should follow:
- Create a float plan. A float plan is a document you give to someone who will not be going with you. This can be a family member, friend, or staff person at your local marina. In the plan, be sure to outline relevant information about your passengers and trip. You can include your name, address, and phone number, name and phone numbers of all passengers, trip itinerary, type of boat and registration number, and any communication and transponder equipment on board (like radios, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons, and Personal Locator Beacons). If there is an incident, the person who has the float plan can get help quickly. This plan can also provide important information to search and rescue teams in an emergency.
- Use common sense. An important piece of common sense is to wear life jackets. Many people just store life jackets on board, but they are of no use in an emergency. It is important to require all passengers to wear properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets while on the water. It is also a good idea to check the weather conditions prior to going out. If there are storms on the horizon, or other hazardous weather forecasts, it may be a good idea to postpone the trip until another day.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating under the influence (BUI) is estimated to cause about 1/3 of all boating fatalities. Furthermore, the risk of being involved in a boating accident is doubled when alcohol is consumed. Alcohol can impair a boat operator’s response time and cause an accident. Other factors, such as the wind, sun, and boating vibrations, can also magnify the physical effects of alcohol and cause impairment to the boat operator and passengers. Furthermore, boating under the influence threatens the safety of others in the water. Operators should keep a safe distance from other boats and swimmers, as well as maintain a safe speed.
- Have safety equipment on board. While wearing life jackets can increase the chance of survival in case of an emergency, it is also important to have necessary safety gear on board. This includes a first aid kit, tool kit, fire extinguisher, flares, whistle or horn, a marine VHF radio, a throwable floatation device, and an extra dock line. In an emergency, having necessary safety equipment on board can increase the chances of a timely rescue and help keep everyone safe.
- Avoid propeller accidents. Another important safety tip is to be extra cautious of propellers. Make sure all passengers are accounted for and out of the way before starting the engine. If people are in the water, designate someone to be a “propeller-watcher” to ensure no one gets in the way of the propeller. Propeller strikes can result in serious injury and even death, and it is important to pay attention before starting the engine. In addition, you can install safety gear such as guards and sensors on the propeller, and you should always wear an emergency cut-off switch at all times in case of emergency.
Call Our Experienced Austin Boating Accident Attorney Today at (512) 271-5112
At The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC, we are dedicated to providing quality legal services to clients in Texas. If you have been injured in a boating accident, our Austin personal injury lawyer can investigate the situation and represent you throughout the process. We believe in holding boat operators, manufacturers, and others responsible for negligent actions that result in boating accidents. We can answer your questions and provide personal assistance as you seek a favorable outcome.
Contact our firm today for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 for your convenience.